From lower school talent shows to Cat’s Cradle, singer and songwriter Cassidy Goff has created a new name for herself onstage: Alo Ver.
Alo Ver said her earliest memories of making music were from talent shows in lower school.
“I definitely liked to perform at a super early age,” Alo Ver said. “But I feel like I really started to have a passion for music and making music when I started listening to the Avett Brothers because they’re from where I went to school in Concord, North Carolina. It was really the Avett Brothers that gave me my passion.”
Alo Ver said she started playing and writing songs when she got a banjo for her birthday in middle school. She said her singing has always been something that was self-taught and more natural.
Now, at UNC, she said she is working to understand her instrument more, learning how to improvise and write songs with a variety of styles on the banjo. She started playing with a bluegrass three-finger style, but found a style known as clawhammer and has learned to combine different techniques to create a unique, new sound.
“I feel like I’m taking little pieces of inspiration from everywhere,” Alo Ver said. “And I feel like my music is very intertwined with UNC and everything I’ve learned here and all the people I have met. Chapel Hill is such a special place. There really is a such a diverse music scene. Everyone has so many different styles that they can offer.”
In terms of creating her own sound, Alo Ver said it’s always being created. She and her band are currently working on a new album, using live instrumentation as opposed to the electronic production of her debut album.
“I’ve always had a hard time putting my music in a genre because I like to emulate my favorite sounds, which sometimes may be a reggae song or sometimes electronic or sometimes bluegrass,” Alo Ver said. “So, it’s all over the place. But it does sound similar in the fact that my lyrics have a pretty similar message around the ideas of love and nature.”
Alo Ver said her songwriting process takes many forms.
“I don’t know if there is a best process because I feel like any new process sparks more creativity,” Alo Ver said. “We sometimes jam on top of (drum beats) until we find something pretty groovy and record it or put lyrics on top of it. The other day Pat had time to make a drum beat and later we added lyrics and then the rest of the instrumentation. Whatever happens, happens.”
Alo Ver said her first album was produced by friend and fellow musician, Ethan Baechtold, who was also in Web Threats with her. They worked on their own side project while playing together in the band, which eventually turned into an entire album. After performing several shows, she met some local musicians, including guitarist Knox Engler, that were interested in translating her songs to live instrumentation.
“In addition to her being a technically gifted and a creative musician who performs at a really high level, she’s also someone that’s just really easy to work with,” Engler said. “There are a lot of really talented artists out there who have somewhat of an ego or think that they’re better than the other artists on the bill, or think that they’re too good for certain things. There’s really none of that with Cassidy."
Bassist Patrick Lydon said he has seen her approach to music develop a lot over the course of her career.
“She has such a strong and clear vision in her head that I envy,” Lydon said. “She always knows what direction she’s trying to push it. People underestimate how much courage it takes to put yourself out there and express freely what you want to express. I admire that she’s fearless when she’s expressing herself and putting art out. She doesn’t hold back.”
Alo Ver said she makes music because she has a passion for it that has never dwindled. She loves the feeling of sharing and experiencing it with other people.
“I want my shows to be very in the moment,” Alo Ver said. “Presence is a very important message that I am trying to put through my music.”
Alo Ver said Kevin ‘Kaze’ Thomas has worked with her for most of her career in Chapel Hill. Thomas is the co-owner and creative director for VibeHouse405, a recording studio and production company, as well as manager and current producer for Alo Ver.
“Getting to work with Kaze since he started Vibehouse has been such a cool way to experience Chapel Hill as well,” Alo Ver said. “He’s been such an amazing mentor to me, but also a life guide. He is really passionate about making the music and arts scene thrive.”
Thomas said when Vibehouse was officially established in February 2018, he was interested in finding an artist that was different from what everyone expected, because everyone saw it as a hip-hop studio. He heard about Alo Ver when she sang for Web Threats.
Thomas said she was interested in creating her own sound and energy, so they discussed the questions: "What’s the recipe for what you need? What do you like? What’s your energy? What are we trying to create around your movement?”
Thomas said part of his plan is to integrate the musical community in Chapel Hill, bringing together musicians from a variety of styles and backgrounds and promoting an environment where artists can make their own sound and identity.
“Be you,” Thomas said. “Do you. Be the first you. Be all of the things that you are and figure out how all of that fits together. That’s how we’ve been moving since that very first project and now we’re starting to cook together what the new one’s going to be.”
As Alo Ver works with both her band and Thomas to create a new album, Thomas said they are excited to continue building her sound and energy with the crowd.
“There’s a clue in my name,” Alo Ver said. “Alo Ver spells ‘A Lover’. That’s a good mindset to have when listening to my music, because I am trying to spread nice vibes and encourage love. And I haven’t quite gotten out the things and sounds that I want to share. Stay tuned.”
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